Urban Design: How Melbourne Sets an Example for Livability

A video shows how alleys, ornamental details, and other features have made this Australian city a pedestrian's paradise

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This great video by Streetfilms packs about 20 great city ideas into 10 minutes, just by taking the viewer around the sidewalks and streets of Melbourne, Australia. I was particularly impressed by the presentation of using "laneways" (alleys) and arcades to make otherwise long city blocks more connected, walkable and inviting, as well as by what the narrators call "micro-detailing"—small design features such as pedestrian elevations and cleverly placed sculpture—to enrich the cityscape. I also learned that Melbourne has the world's most extensive light rail system. Very impressive.

If you're a city design geek (and I know some of you are), you'll enjoy this while learning a lot:

Melbourne: A Pedestrian Paradise from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Full credit to urbanist Mike Lydon for bringing this to my attention through a post on the new and very promising blog Pattern Cities that he writes with Aurash Khawarzad. In another post, Khawarzad laments (as I do) that by over-emphasizing high-tech solutions, some high-profile sustainable cities efforts miss the equally if not more important environmental benefits that encouraging more organic forms of urbanism can bring, particularly if it displaces sprawl. Melbourne makes the case for the urbanist approach, most eloquently.


This post also appears on NRDC's Switchboard.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. More

Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. He is the author or co-author of Once There Were Greenfields (NRDC 1999), Solving Sprawl (Island Press 2001), Smart Growth In a Changing World (APA Planners Press 2007), and Green Community (APA Planners Press 2009). In 2009, Kaid was voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on Planetizen.com, and he was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" in 2010 by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. He blogs at NRDC's Switchboard.

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